Parks and playgrounds

Towns and cities are becoming a more sterile and hostile place for young people with serious consequences for their well-being and development, a new report concludes.

The report found that a lack of imaginative design and concerns over safety are restricting young people by prohibiting the adventurous, risk-associated activities that are vital to their learning and development - such as climbing trees, riding bikes and using skateboards.

Parents and local authorities are fearful of adventurous play because of the risk of injury whilst the perception of young people as potential troublemakers means there is pressure for greater control over their activities. As a consequence many play areas are dull, uniform and fail to interest or challenge young people’s imaginations.

If denied adventurous play, the author claims, young people may relocate to more dangerous places and engage in anti-social behaviour. “We are in danger of producing a culture of childhood which leapfrogs from playschool to chat rooms”.

The report looks at other European countries, such as Denmark, which have a more positive attitude towards children in the design of public spaces. The report argues that by involving young people in consultation and design, public space can be challenging and suitable for children and adults of all ages.

For more information, see Groundwork's web site.

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